First off, I am not against the Paleo Diet. But I am Not Just Paleo either.
The Paleo Diet brought a lot of mainstream awareness to healthy dieting (positive or negative,) and improved a lot of people’s lives. No diet, however, is perfect for everyone.
I am however against certain ideas that are associated with the Paleo Diet. I believe some of these ideas are setting the mainstream movement of healthy dieting back. Here are some ways to modify those issues to improve the diet.
What I Would Modify About The Paleo Diet:
- Change the name from the “Paleo Diet” to either the “natural diet” or the less processed food diet.
- Reduce the time wasted trying to debate what comprised the historical “Paleo” Diet. Instead of spending valuable time debating the makeup of the ancient diet, our time should be spent instead learning from the geographical differences in ancient diets (apply that knowledge to individual ancestry dietary habits,) and admit that modern food is different from”paleo” food. Just because modern food is different because of the invention of “agriculture” does not make it unhealthy. Most modern food is completely different from what our ancestors ingested. We should instead emphasize on clean healthy food, rather than primarily focusing on what ancient man ingested.
- Limit your ingestion of paleo junk food. Just because something is marketed as “paleo” does not make it healthy.
- Modify the diet to accept “clean” carbohydrates.
- Some interpretations of the diet can be strictly long-term low carb, which is not good for most people. Long-term ketosis (without refeeds) increases SHBG, reduces populations of some “probiotic” gut flora, thins the mucosal lining of the intestines, and can be harsh on the adrenals and thyroid. Admit, that long-term ketosis (outside of medical necessity,) may not be best for everyone and that proper carbohydrate consumption has a purpose in our diet.
How I Would Fix The Paleo Diet
I believe that labeling the diet “paleo” is misleading. Most detractors will say the diet does not even closely resemble what our ancestors ingested. Sadly, that statement is true in that the food we eat today does not resemble what our ancestors ate, not even close. Most of the resources associated with the Paleo Diet are trying to prove that our ancestors ate a similar diet, not instead focusing on how the diet is much healthier than the SAD. The Paleo Diet because of this should have been named the “natural” or “less processed” diet. Humans over the centuries have bred fruit, vegetables, and animals to our liking, this is known as agriculture. A prime example of how we changed food for better or for worse is almonds.
Paleo almonds would have been very bitter and contained more amygdalin. I guess people who believe that amygdalin is one of the better alternative cancer treatments (it is not compared to Rick Simpson oil, for example,) are the only people that would like that the ancient almonds were bitter. Sweeter almonds were exclusively bred because they tasted better. Therefore, bitter almonds in the food supply were eventually reduced through agriculture. So, even though, modern, sweet almonds are allowed on the Paleo Diet, they do not even come close to the almonds our ancient ancestors ingested. 1
Another example of agricultural breeding for better a food product is modern bananas.
The Paleo Diet also does not distinguish the difference between what is considered the true one size fits all Paleo Diet and what ancient cultures consumed in different parts of the world. Our genetic ethnicity dictates our collective diet and individual diet tolerances. The Japanese have increased rates of lactose intolerance compared to European Caucasians. What little cattle that were in ancient Japan were protected from consumption because of Buddhist practices, even consumption of dairy was outlawed. 2 Unlike the Japanese, Europeans have for centuries ingested beef products and consumed dairy. Because of this, for most people of European descent, the consumption of natural grass fed dairy is healthy, compared to someone of Japanese descent that cannot process lactose and dairy proteins including casein. Most Japanese lack the proper gut flora to produce the lactase to digest dairy properly. Europeans, however, consumed dairy for a long time and have the necessary gut flora to digest it properly.
The same conclusion could be made for the individual ingestion tolerance of non-GMO corn. Native American consumption of corn throughout the ages, when treated with lime, provided a lot of nutrition to their diets. Corn, however, might not be tolerated by some people of European Caucasian heritage because of the lack of native intestinal flora or activated genes associated with corn consumption through the ages. There were many different tribes of “ancient man,” not all of these tribes consumed the same diet.
Just like the newest fad “gluten free” everything, we are now getting everything Paleo approved! I will admit even I have ingested some of the processed “paleo” junk food from time to time. However, the rise of “paleo” junk food has nothing to do with the diet itself; it is companies trying to profit off its popularity, capitalism! Just be aware that just because something is “paleo” does not mean that gorging yourself on it is healthy.
If I had to choose a diet that would benefit most people, it would, be the Perfect Health Diet. The PHD is the diet that I most closely follow. Not every diet fits everyone though. People with SIBO, for example, might have health issues on the PHD. What PHD, however, gets right over the Paleo Diet is Jaminet’s information on “clean carbohydrates” and inclusion of grass fed dairy. I believe that the Paleo Diet is too restrictive when it comes to carbohydrate sources. I believe that carbs including tapioca, taro, rice, and potatoes (flesh only,) are fine for most people. In addition, I agree with Jaminet that grass fed dairy from time to time is a beneficial source of many different nutrients and fine for most people to consume.
Restriction of carbohydrates can lead some people on the Paleo Diet to be on a no carbohydrate or low carbohydrate diet. Long-term ketosis (without proper refeeds) increases SHBG, 3 reduces populations of some “probiotic” gut flora, 4 weakens the mucosal lining of the intestines, and can be harsh on the adrenals and thyroid. 5
I truly appreciate Loren Cordain for what he did to bring back healthy dieting from the brink of destruction by mainstream nutritionists. I believe that the Paleo Diet is, of course, better than the SAD and most diets out there that are recommended by nutritionists. That being said I believe that the diet, like any diet, has its share of flaws, and I believe advocates of the Paleo Diet should acknowledge and embrace these flaws. More time and effort should be spent on why the Paleo Diet is healthier than the SAD, not why it was the diet of our ancestors and how it relates to modern man.
- http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2259050/ ↩
- http://web-japan.org/nipponia/nipponia36/en/feature/feature01.html ↩
- https://books.google.com/books?id=FVfzRvaucq8C&pg=PA1155&lpg=PA1155&dq=ketosis+increases+SHBG&source=bl&ots=x-bRxXZa0X&sig=N1KkihXJ1SE6fS6WfVZXFzyk45A&hl=en&sa=X&ei=WyMsVcGrLpLzggSb2oPwCg&ved=0CDwQ6AEwBA#v=onepage&q=ketosis%20increases%20SHBG&f=false ↩
- http://chriskresser.com/you-are-what-your-bacteria-eat-the-importance-of-feeding-your-microbiome-with-jeff-leach ↩
- http://perfecthealthdiet.com/category/zero-carb-dangers/ ↩